Sunday, January 25, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS


Voters win with top-two primary

elias column sig

By
From page A8 | June 21, 2014 |

Results like those from this month’s primary cause detractors to call California’s four-year-old top-two election system the “jungle primary” because it often features races with a dozen or more contestants and outcomes that can be completely unpredictable.

For sure, that makes it a lot more fun both to vote and follow election returns – unless you are a prominent candidate or a boss of either major party.

Focus on just one statewide race for a solid picture of what the top-two system can do. This one came within a hair (and a recount might change things back) of absolutely assuring the Republican Party of one of California’s four leading political offices this fall, even though registered Democrats now outnumber Republicans by about 15 percent.

That race pitted two established, well-funded Democratic candidates against two Republicans, with one more Democrat and a Green Party hopeful also in the field. Not as many prospects as in some other races, but still plenty to scramble some establishment eggs.

The 10.9 percent of the Election Day vote count won by virtually unknown Democrat Tammy D. Blair and Green Laura Wells knocked down the counts of former Democratic Assembly Speaker John Perez and state Board of Equalization member Betty Yee. So, for much of election night, it appeared Republicans Ashley Swearengin, the mayor of Fresno, and David Evans, a CPA and former mayor of tiny California City, would meet this fall with no Democratic opposition.

In a state which has seen no statewide Republican officeholders for almost four years, that would have been remarkable.

But Perez edged out Evans by a mere 2,436 votes, a 21.7 percent performance, when all the counting was done on election night, and appeared headed for a runoff with Swearengin (who herself had just 24.4 percent), pending the count of thousands of provisional and damaged ballots, not to mention a potential recount. Since then, Perez and Yee have gone back and forth in the second spot, with Yee leading by a mere 708 votes as of Friday morning.

Under the previous party primary system, there would have been little remarkable in those numbers – Swearengin would have been the GOP nominee and the Democratic winner would still be in the balance, but for sure a Democrat and a Republican would have faced off in the fall.

If this kind of narrow race for an office whose occupant is the state’s chief check-writer doesn’t prove that every vote matters, it’s hard to see what could. Top two, then, will provide future motivation for two things: It will give voters more reason than ever to participate, and it will give parties reason to get organized well enough to avoid matchups between prominent party mates for the same office.

There was no such organization in either party this time. The result is that in district after district, races will pit people of the same parties in runoffs this fall. In runs for Congress alone, seven districts in all parts of the state will see Democrat vs. Democrat and Republican on Republican.

In some of those contests, incumbents ran up large primary majorities, but still must run again in the fall, suggesting top two should be tweaked to make winning 50 percent of the primary vote sufficient for election. If that were the case now, Gov. Jerry Brown would already have a second term. Similarly, incumbent members of Congress like Xavier Becerra, Tom McClintock, Adam Schiff, Lucille Roybal-Allard and Mike Thompson must contest again in November, despite far outdistancing all who ran against them this spring.

Such a modification to top-two voting would also see Rep. John Garamendi, a Democrat, returned to office to represent Solano County based on his 53.3 percent of the primary vote in a head-to-head contest with Republican Assemblyman Dan Logue. Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, would also be returned to office after having won his head-to-head primary with Republican Alex Henthorn of Vacaville.

More interesting will be the same-party race pitting Republicans Tony Strickland and Steve Knight in a district that stretches from Ventura County to the High Desert portion of Los Angeles County, and another matching first-term Democrat Eric Swallwell and state Senate majority leader Ellen Corbett in the East Bay suburbs of San Francisco. Silicon Valley gets a ballyhooed intraparty race between longtime incumbent Democrat Mike Honda and the well-funded Indian-American Ro Khanna. Members of the minority party in each of those districts can now decide the fall outcomes, exactly what top two intended.

This primary also debunked the notion that top two allows only major party candidates onto runoffs. Incumbents Schiff and Thompson both face independents.

It’s all different from after any previous California primary, with incumbents less secure than before, and voters with the power they sought when they created top two.

Thomas Elias is a California author. Reach him at tdelias@aol.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • JagJune 21, 2014 - 8:02 am

    But it still all democrats,, Thanks for trying to make it interesting Thomas It`s just not,

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Nursing students take next step in higher education

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1 | Gallery

     
    Friend seeks justice for 1982 Vacaville homicide victim

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 12 Comments | Gallery

     
    Solano GOP welcomes address from King niece

    By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1, 5 Comments | Gallery

     
    Biggest Little Car Show returns for 31st year

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Solano Safety Net Summit set in Fairfield downtown

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

    Wine, chocolate pairing comes to downtown Benicia

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Local gas prices dip below $2 a gallon

    By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

     
    Be heart smart all year long

    By Gerald Bourne, MD | From Page: C4

    Kindergarten Readiness Roundup enlightens parents

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Weather for Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

    Crews respond to residential fire

    By Bill Hicks | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    CHP seeks witnesses to I-80 crash

    By Bill Hicks | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

     
    City seeks input on downtown plan

    By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: B7, 2 Comments

    Fairfield police log: Jan. 23, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

     
    Suisun City police log: Jan. 23, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

    Privatized housing tenants to feel BAH pinch

    By Tom Philpott | From Page: B10

     
    Suisun City police log: Jan. 22, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

    Airman with Fairfield tie completes training

    By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

     
    .

    US / World

    Abe ‘speechless’ after video claims IS hostage dead

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    It’s a hoot hanging out with owls at this Tokyo cafe

    By The Associated Press | From Page: C2 | Gallery

    Man searching by plane finds body of missing son off Mexico

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Kia recalling nearly 87,000 Fortes because of fire risk

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Elon Musk’s SpaceX drops lawsuit against Air Force

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    California’s public-worker payroll increased post-recession

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Avian flu confirmed in commercial turkey flock in California

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Boy, 13, arrested in fatal stabbing near Los Angeles school

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Abortion opponents express renewed hope at SF rally

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    School: Sea otter conceived in wild is 1st born in captivity

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Company seeks rights to names of iconic Grand Canyon lodges

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Expert says King Tut mask can be restored after epoxy used

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

     
    Obama to cut short India trip to pay call on Saudi Arabia

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

    GOP presses state bills limiting gay rights before ruling

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

     
    1st attempt to lift fuselage of crashed AirAsia plane fails

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

    Tens of thousands protest after president resigns in Yemen

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

     
    Thousands march against socialist president in Venezuela

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

    Rockets kill 30 in Ukrainian city as rebels launch offensive

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

     
    .

    Opinion

    Plea for return of stolen statue

    By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    Not all police are bad

    By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 10 Comments

    Editorial Cartoon: Jan. 25, 2015

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Sound off for Jan. 25, 2015

    By Daily Republic | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

     
     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: Jan. 25, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Jan. 25, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    The gift of a new beginning

    By Dalia Adams | From Page: C3, 1 Comment

     
    Mennonite group to build houses in tornado-damaged town

    By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

    Yearbooks bring Jewish, Catholic groups together

    By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

     
    Horoscope Jan. 25, 2015

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

    My dad can’t get over the bad first impression of my boyfriend

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

     
    .

    Entertainment

    PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

    By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

     
    Mariel Hemingway working on memoir and young adult novel

    By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

    Jonathan Franzen to appear at BookExpo America

    By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

     
    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

    .

    Sports

    Thompson’s record 3rd quarter leads Warriors past Kings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Belichick on deflated balls: ‘We try to do everything right’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1, 4 Comments | Gallery

    25 years of trying to get it right

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1, 3 Comments | Gallery

     
    Sharapova, Bouchard into quarterfinals at Australian Open

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    2 Williams sisters, 2 Madisons into 4th round at Aussie Open

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Hall of Famer Ernie Banks mourned in sports world and beyond

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    AP Interview: Selig says MLB could expand internationally

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Could Super Bowl be Lynch’s finale in Seattle?

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Sherman, Seahawks take the trash-talk lead over Patriots

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki’s surgically repaired hip on mend

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Buckeyes celebrate their title at Ohio Stadium

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Carroll, Belichick excelled after failing the first time

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Luck-led Team Carter vs. Romo-lead Team Irvin in Pro Bowl

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    AP Explains: The Pro Bowl, unlike any other All-Star game

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Abdullah leads North to 34-13 win over South in Senior Bowl

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    As Brady, Gronk know, pre-Super Bowl injury talk always big

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Upstart wins $400,000 Holy Bull at Gulfstream

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Mischief Clem wins California Cup Derby in photo finish

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    World Cup of Hockey tournament set for 2016

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Hometown report: Bowling

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B3

    Ashley Wagner wins 3rd US title with record-setting scores

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Weber’s 108.5-mph blast gives him hardest shot at NHL skills

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Jimenez, Mediate share lead in Champions Tour opener

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Grace wins Qatar Masters by 1 stroke

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Matt Kuchar stumbles in, gives away Humana Challenge lead

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    For streaking Atlanta Hawks, it’s all about the balance

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Sports on TV for Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B5

     
    This date in sports history for Jan. 25, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    .

    Business

    Anheuser-Busch to buy craft beer company

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    Higher standard deduction, other breaks for older taxpayers

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

    Booking a trip to the ER on your smartphone? It’s a breeze

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

     
    Recalls this week: cleaners, fitness machines

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    Tiny Cokes: Less guilt means more money for makers

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    First Look: Apple’s HomeKit could help smarten up your home

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

    .

    Obituaries

    Sheila Margery (Smith) Luxenberg

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics